A councillor says university students are one of the main reasons why Exeter has so much food in its general waste. Food makes up almost half (47 per cent) of the contents of residual black bag waste in the city, according to 2017 research included in a new waste management strategy for Devon and Torbay.
A councillor says university students are one of the main reasons why Exeter has so much food in its general waste.
Food makes up almost half (47 per cent) of the contents of residual black bag waste in the city, according to 2017 research included in a new waste management strategy for Devon and Torbay.
The figure is the highest in the county. At district council level, Torridge is second-highest at 34 per cent, but in East Devon, food makes up only 16 per cent of general waste.
Exeter City Council does not yet provide separate food waste collections for households, though a limited trial is set to begin soon. Currently, residents put unwanted and leftover food in their black bags for collection.
But discussing the analysis, which is updated every five years, Councillor Rob Hannaford (Labour, St Thomas) said many students are “still not stepping up to the mark in terms of their recycling and reusing”.
Referring to when he undertook spot checks of bags during his time in charge of environment and waste at the city council, Cllr Hannaford said he found “food and vegetables in-date, clothes with their tags still on, unworn. You have to see it to believe it.
“I think that is still the nub of our problem. I know the university do a lot of work on it, but I think some of it comes from the fact there are students from overseas that have got different waste collection systems – even the fact they’ve come from different parts of the country.
“But if they are going to university, I think they should know that you don’t put perfectly good food in the black bin, or they should be donating surplus clothes, books and other items to charity shops or other people that are welcoming those in need.
“I despair if they are chucking it in the black bin and messing up our waste collection, to be frank.”
Councillor Roger Croad (Conservative, Ivybridge), who presented the new strategy to the cabinet, called on Exeter to “move to food waste collections as soon as is practicable”.
In July, it was announced that a pilot food waste collection service would begin in at least one area of the city from the autumn, but it’s not clear when it will be extended.
Exeter’s recycling rate is the worst in Devon, at 26 per cent of total waste collected. By comparison, neighbouring East Devon recycles 61 per cent of its waste and in Mid Devon the figure is 53 per cent.
A spokesperson for Exeter City Council did not respond to Cllr Hannaford’s comments but said: “The city council is planning a trial of food waste collections in the city this autumn and the results of the trial will be carefully considered.”